‘Pakistan must prosecute Lashkar leaders for Mumbai attacks’

January 10th, 2009 - 10:32 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Jan 10 (IANS) An influential US senator, at a special hearing on the Mumbai terror attack, demanded that Pakistan should not just detain leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the Nov 26 massacre, but also prosecute them for these acts.Senator Joe Lieberman, independent chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told the panel that he had visited both India and Pakistan and discussed with their leaders Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Mumbai attacks.

“I was encouraged that the democratically-elected leaders of Pakistan understand the threat of Islamist extremism to themselves and their neighbours, and that the Pakistani government has taken steps to crack down on LeT, including abiding by the sanctions imposed last December at the United Nations,” he said Thursday.

“But, much more is needed - and quickly. It is absolutely imperative that Lashkar’s leaders are not just detained by Pakistani authorities, but that they are prosecuted for the terrorist acts they are accused of planning and helping to carry out,” Lieberman said at a hearing of his panel on “Lessons From The Mumbai Terrorist Attacks.”

The problem of radicalisation, he said, is “particularly important in Pakistan, given that many of the attacks against the United States and our allies - both failed, blocked and successful - have had links to Pakistani-based groups, particularly Pakistani-based training camps.”

Lieberman, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, said: “The Indian people and their leaders were understandably and justifiably angry and intent on demanding and achieving justice.”

“Prime Minister Singh and his government have acted firmly and responsibly in response to this attack. The terrorists wanted to divide and radicalise people in India and to provoke a war with Pakistan,” he said.

“But India’s government, indeed, India’s people have proven stronger and wiser than that, while being persistent in demanding that those responsible for these attacks be brought to justice,” Lieberman said.

The senator said he had discussed with Manmohan Singh his administration’s plan to overhaul the way the Indian government is organized to protect homeland security in the wake of Mumbai.

“Needless to say, I hope we can find ways in which we can assist our Indian friends in this critical effort, and how, in turn, they can assist us in protecting our homeland from terrorism,” he said.

Susan Collins, the top Republican member on the committee, said: “On the diplomatic front, we clearly must redouble our efforts to persuade and pressure states like Pakistan that tolerate terrorist safe-havens.”

“The implicated terrorist group LeT has links that reach far beyond South Asia,” she said noting “In 2004, for example, two men sentenced for violent felonies admitted to helping members of a Virginian jihadist network gain entry to Lashkar training camps in Pakistan.”

She said the panel needed to ask “whether the Mumbai atrocities shed any new light on the nature of the violent extremist mind-set, and on the opportunities for the United States and the international community to work cooperatively to prevent and counter the process of violent radicalisation.”

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